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T&T vs Cuba (10-Dec-2004) - U-20.
Sun Dec 12, 2004 08:32
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Under-20s stay alive in CONCACAF qualifying.
By: Ian Prescott - T&T Express.


Trinidad and Tobago supporters were at the edge of their seats up to the very last second, as the national Under-20 footballers ground out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Cuba at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium on Friday night, which swept them into the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the FIFA World Youth Championship.
After coming away 3-2 victors over the Cubans two weeks ago, Friday's important draw shot T&T into the final round of CONCACAF qualifying from January 12-16 at Home Depot Centre in the Carson, California. That final qualifying series will see T&T engaging the United States, Costa Rica and Panama in a tournament which will see the top two finishers among the four Group A finalists advancing to the 2005 FIFA event in the Netherlands from June 10-July 2.
The other half of the draw will see Mexico, Canada, Jamaica and Honduras contesting Group B from January 26-30 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where the top two finishers also qualify for the World Championship.
As usual, the Americans were doing their preparatory work. And in the crowd at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, was United States national assistant coach Keith Fulk, who was doing a scouting job on the "Soca Warriors," who his team will face in the first game of the final round series on January 12, 2005.
National coach Anton Corneal had mixed feelings about Fulk's presence but said he still had a few surprises and five overseas-based footballers who the Americans had not seen. Corneal described his side's performance as courageous and felt that his lads knew they needed to step up against a very talented Cuban team and did so magnificently. He said the good scoreline was as a result of 70 per cent fight and 30 per cent ability.
"I expected a tough game," Corneal admitted. "In Cuba, they (the Cubanos) were very good and we needed to step up. I think we did very good," he said, while adding that his players would have to set up another notch for their next match against the Americans.
However, Corneal hardly had his mind on Fulk, as Friday's match drew to a heart-stopping climax. Cuba had taken a 3-2 lead on 74 minutes through substitute Ariel Gonzales, who swept a low pass into the penalty box from team-mate Adonia Solis, past T&T custodian Thorne Holder to balance the tie 5-5 on aggregate. But under the urging of the vocal local crowd, the home team responded quickly when the power of Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive midfielder Atulla Guerra's long-range shot forced an uncharacteristic mistake from solid Cuban keeper Yunaikel Romero. Steady throughout the match, Romero allowed the ball to slip through his grasp, giving T&T a 79th minute equaliser.
As the match wound down, either team could have won. The Cubans looked a skilled bunch and easily knitted short passes between themselves. The Warriors also looked potent going forward and Malick Secondary Comprehensive dribbler Hayden Tinto almost won it when his deflected shot crashed off the Cuban crossbar late in the game, while at the other end, a shaxky T&T defence, where only captain Radhanfar Abu Bakr stood out, was struggling to contain the Cubans, particularly substitute Solis on the right. Goalkeeper Holder twice had to race off his line, picking up a couple of knocks, to sweep the ball away from his penalty area , as the Cubans threw caution to the wind in search of victory.
The game had earlier gotten off to a riveting start when Abu Bakr struck the Cuban crossbar with a powerful free-kick in the opening seconds of the match. Abu Bakr had an outstanding game, winning everything at the back, and somehow having the stamina to bolt upfield to support his team's attacks with regularity through 90 minutes.
It took just six minutes before T&T took a 1-0 lead when Tinto turned outside the penalty area and drilled a low shot past the Cuban custodian Romero.
But, in the 23rd minute, the Cubans caught the T&T defence napping from a free-kick, and a short pass into the penalty box was swept into the T&T goal by Cuban striker Yordani Oropesa, who levelled the scores at 1-1. And in the 37th the visitors led 2-1 when a low shot from Mario Guerrero beat Holder in the T&T goal.
Pacey striker Shane Caldron, St Anthony's College forward Christopher Sam and Tinto, all caused the Cubans problems as the young Warriors chopped away at the Cuban back line. But the equaliser only came in the 69th minute when a spell of heavy pressure on the Cuban defence forced several corners. From one of these, defender Karlon Murray met the crossball with a perfect header from inside the six metre box which levelled the scores the scores at 2-2.
That began the storming finish which saw three goals coming in the final 15 minutes of the match. Near the end, everyone from T&T weas begging Dominican referee Ibrahim Brohim to sound the final whistle, before finally giving the national starlets a standing ovation for their fighting performance.
Up-Close With: Andre Samuel.
Well, well well fellas, first of all I would like to say that our football is in good hands! And that is no joke!

The U-17 team lost 3-1 but the standard of play that they demonstrated showed that if they are kept together, they would be a force to be reckoned with in 5-10 years time.

As coach Nigel Grovesner said earlier, it was going to be an all out attack, and attack it was! They ran their hearts out in the first half and were much better than the 1-0 lead that they had at half time. They constructively built from the back and showed a general understanding of the game. Cuba scored three goals in the second half, and all three goals were due to the leg weariness of the teenagers. I don’t want to say that they were not fit, but I would rather say that they ran too much in the first half with too little reward. That Cuban team was not better than them, Team TnT just shot poorly while the Cubans took the three chances that they got. But all in all, our future looks bright.

Now onto the big game………

The socawarriors.net crew was me, Cowen and Patriot. We got seats right next to Jack Warner. With in the first 40 seconds of the game, de young Warriors hit de post! The captain, Radhanfah Abu Bakr (son of Yasin Abu Bakr-who was in de stands too-) took a free kick 10 meters from the half line, yes…….HALF LINE and it crash against de post with the keeper beaten. From that I realized that we were in for a treat…and what a treat it was!! That U-20 team strong!!! No kix, no SKYLARK!!! Abu Bakr (de captain) was a tower at the back and came up for every set play (a la Marvin Andrews, but with more technical ability). He was ably supported by Marcelle Francois (who was a bit too slow) and the speedy Joel James. Hayden Tinto is a little trickster, and will give defenders real problem when he gets older, since every time he was on de ball, there was an air of expectation in the crowd. Keon Daniel had a nice game and all those who think that he should be on de national senior team should just stay quiet because he isn’t ready for senior team football. Patriot, Cowen and I watched him closely and while he is a good passer, he was not good defensively and did not assert himself against the Cubans. Shane Calderon was another really good player; he was not afraid to take on defenders and looked very competent on the ball. Trinidad scored first, Tinto scoring somewhere in the 15 minute. But the Cubans fought back and by the half time whistle, two defensive lapses saw Cuba with a one goal lead. It was now 4-4 on aggregate!

Both teams started the second half nervously and Cuba was the first to settle, and they attacked and pressured the TnT defense! The young Warriors then woke up and then applied some pressure of their own and very soon they got the reward that they deserved. It occurred after a series of corners (probably about 5-6 consecutively) which resulted in a goal (I cant remember who scored), I think it was Karlon Murray. Cuba pressed immediately after that and regained the lead within 5 minutes……3-2 was now the score and 5-5 was the aggregate! TnT squandered a few more chances but finally in the 80th minute, substitute Atullah Guerra blasted a left footed shot that the keeper could only parry into the net! Pandemonium in de Mannie Ramjohn Stadium! 3-3 was the score and 6-5 was the aggregate! Another substitute, my favorite, (Kezi Lara), dazzled the crowd, and the hepless Cubans with his dribbling skills but he just don’t know when tuh shoot! He on de right and Tinto on the left are a dangerous combination! This team deserved the win and controlled most of the play! they had more shots on goal than the Cubans and had more of the possesion!

Great work to Anton Corneal.

I'm impressed with this side and who knows, this side might make it to the World Cup. They in ah group with three other teams, (ah think its Costa Rica, Panama, and USA) and the top two qualifying for the Youth World Cup! This team has real camaraderie, and they looked as though they have a wonderful leader who can lead by example (unlike Angus Eve) and marshal his players and defense.

I spoke to meh pardner Shaun Fuentes and he say dat TSTT and TTFF strike ah deal to de tune of $3 million dollars for the next 2 years.

I also saw Ansil Elcock with an American guy looking like a scout. The guy had clip boards with football fields on them and Cowen noticed that he was drawing the positions the Trinidad and Cuban players were getting into while each were attacking the other! Elcock was with him all de while helping him out seeing that we have to face USA next !!! Elcock even went as far as organisiing a team sheet fuh the man!! This is de kinda thing that does make me get sooo mad!!

Anyways, the game was good and both teams looked sounder than even the senior team!

Ah love it!!

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